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New Labour education was not a success story

A letter to The Morning Star from Dr Richard House, Educational Consultant

“It was good to see much-respected Independent Education Editor Richard Garner’s new book reviewed in The Morning Star.

However, it contained one statement that cannot go unchallenged. The assertion that New Labour’s “big literacy and numeracy push” was a “success” (whether it be Richard’s assertion, or the reviewer’s own view) is very far from being the case.

The mechanistically imposed “Literacy and Numeracy Hours”, for example, were an educational catastrophe in a host of ways, not least the institutionalisation of a “too much, too soon” ideology, which in turn has served to legitimise and pave the way for an ever-earlier start to quasi-formal learning in our schools – which now have an effective school starting age of just 4.

Such developmentally inappropriate learning experiences for young children are storing up all manner of grave health problems for the future, as the US Longevity Research Project has compellingly shown.

It is vital that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour doesn’t make the same educational policy-making errors as Blair’s government and the Tories, but instead moves towards a dedicated kindergarten stage for three to six year olds that privileges play and social-emotional development rather than premature cognitive-intellectual learning.

If Labour will just have the courage to address this issue, they will get widespread support from across the sector from both early-years practitioners and parents alike.”

Dr Richard House, Educational Consultant.

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